Phobos (mythology)

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Phobos (Ancient Greek Φόβος, "Fear") is the personification of horror in Greek mythology. He is the offspring of Ares and Aphrodite. He was known for accompanying Ares into battle along with his brother, Deimos, the goddess Enyo, and his father’s attendants. Timor is his Roman equivalent. Considering the accounts in Greek mythology, Phobos is more of a personification of the fear brought by war and does not appear as an actual character in any mythology.

Contents

Genealogy

Phobos is the son of Aphrodite and Ares. This can be seen in Hesiod’s Theogony, “Also Kytherea Aphrodite bare to Ares the shield piercer Phobos…” (Atsma). Phobos’ genealogy is shown below:

Worship

Those who worshipped Phobos often made bloody sacrifices in his name. In Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus, the seven warriors slaughter a bull over a black shield and then “touching the bull’s gore with their hands they swore an oath by … Phobos who delights in blood…”(Atsma). Ares’s son, Kyknos, “beheaded strangers who came along in order to build a temple to Phobos (fear) from the skulls.” (Atsma).

Warriors and heroes who worshipped Phobos, such as Heracles and Agamemnon, carried shields with depictions of Phobos on them.

Depictions

Hesiod depicts Phobos on the shield of Heracles as “…staring backwards with eyes that glowed with fire. His mouth was full of teeth in a white row, fearful and daunting…” (Atsma) and again later during a war scene as being “…eager to plunge amidst the fighting men,” (Atsma).

Phobos is often depicted as having a lion’s or lion-like head. This can be seen in Description of Greece by Pausanias, “On the shield of Agamemnon is Phobos (Fear), who head is a lion’s…” (Atsma).

History

According to Plutarch, Alexander the Great offered sacrifices to Phobos on the eve of the Battle of Gaugamela. This was believed by Mary Renault to be part of Alexander’s psychological warfare campaign against Darius III. Darius fled from the field of Gaugamela, which makes Alexander’s praying to Phobos (in all probability asking him to fill Darius with fear) seem successful as a tactic.

Astronomy

American astronomer Asaph Hall named one of planet Mars' satellites "Phobos", which he discovered along with the second Mars satellite, "Deimos", in 1877.

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